Trent Researchers to Investigate Impact of Health and Wellness Community-Based Initiatives in Aboriginal Communities


Drs. Brenda Smith-Chant and Geoff Navara awarded grant to conduct research in several Ontario First Nations communities

Tuesday, April 6, 2010, Peterborough

Drs. Brenda Smith-Chant and Geoff Navara, faculty members in the Department of Psychology at Trent University, and Dr. Stuart Shanker, director of the Milton and Ethel Harris Research Initiative (MEHRI), have recently been awarded a research grant to evaluate the impact of community-based initiatives promoting healthy activity in various Aboriginal/First Nation communities scattered throughout Ontario.The Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion, through its Healthy Communities Fund has contributed $250,000 toward the project with the other research partners, MERHI and Trent University, contributing an additional $107,750.

“Fifteen communities proposed unique programs designed to enhance and promote healthy activities to the Ministry of Health Promotion. We have an opportunity to go into these communities and find out how each of the funded programs worked, discover the unique strengths of each program, and discuss the ways in which each community navigated around potential obstacles in achieving their goals,” said Dr. Smith-Chant, who leads the research team.

“Our government is pleased to support this important health and wellness initiative. Our support for Trent University’s study will prove invaluable in helping us better understand how local communities are helping themselves to improve healthy living amongst their residents and overcome obesity,” said Minister of Health Promotion Margarett Best.

Members of the research team will make site visits to each of the communities willing to participate in the evaluation. “We’ll go into the communities guided by the principles of community-based research, understanding that each community initiated their program in response to their unique set of circumstances,” said Dr. Navara. “A ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to research is not appropriate when considering these initiatives and communities.”

One of the important factors in the awarding of the grant to Trent researchers is the access to a wealth of knowledge and experience in indigenous issues and culture that is available at the University.

“The Indigenous Studies program here at Trent is a critical resource for us as we develop a collaborative research approach,” stated Dr. Smith-Chant. “Access to the resources and people in Indigenous Studies helps us ensure that our research is culturally relevant and appropriate,” said Dr. Navara, adding, “This research project is truly collaborative on so many levels; the project involves the Aboriginal/First Nations communities, the Provincial Government, a University and an independent research institute. This collaboration is both exciting and necessary for the project to be a success.”

There are many physical, psychological and social benefits linked with healthy activity. These benefits often spill over to all aspects of the community in tangible and meaningful ways. The research team is committed to exploring the impact of the community-based initiatives on all these levels.


For more information, please contact:
Dr. Brenda Smith-Chant, Psychology Department, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 x7780 or cphd[at]

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